Readers’ Place

Remembering Joan Rivers

Joan RiversJoan Rivers (1933-2014) – acerbic, raunchy, workaholic – was an American comic icon. Like many female comics of the previous century, she got laughs through self-deprecation, but as she aged, others took the brunt of her deprecatory remarks. Her fans adored her for taking the rich and famous down a notch or two or three.

Maplewood Memorial Library owns several of Rivers’ works. Her last book, Diary of a mad diva, will arrive any day now. Her first book, the autobiographical Enter talking (1986), details the sheer drudgery and determination it took for her to get noticed when she was starting out. In addition to her mostly autobiographical Still talking, I hate everyone–starting with me, Bouncing back : I’ve survived everything– and I mean everything– and you can too!, Rivers co-authored Murder at the Academy Awards : a red carpet murder mystery. Her documentary, A piece of work, showcases her workhorse tendencies while allowing a glimpse at her more vulnerable sides. All are available for Maplewood patrons.  by Ina Rimpau

Posted by Barbara | 17 Sep 2014 | Comments Off

Which fictional character would you most like to meet?

We asked our Summer Reading Club members that question.  Here’s how they answered.  You can comment to tell us which fictional character you’d like to meet.

I would like to meet the lead female character, Elizabeth Bennett, in “Pride and Prejudice” because although she was prejudiced against Mr. Darcy, she stood for her ideals.

Atticus Finch, “To Kill a Mocking Bird”  Very good looking widower, very smart, brave and good as he faces up to racial prejudice and defends a wrongly accused black man.

I would like to meet Vivian, the 91 year old woman in “Orphan Train.” She gave away her baby after she learned about her husband’s death. I’d ask her why when she would have been financially able to raise a child and had the support of her adoptive parents.

Dracula. I’d ask him if living forever is worth the high price.

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, was the little detective really that smart?

I would love to meet Nancy Drew. I was first introduced to Nancy when my Aunt Jane handed down her collection of mystery stories. In the 40’s, Nancy drove a roadster, in the 70’s, she drove a convertible. Today-perhaps she drives a hybrid. The books are updated but still remain timeless. Nancy is smart, graceful, ambitious and accomplished. How I have always wanted to be friends with Nancy! The books were a staple when I participated in the Summer Reading Club at Maplewood Memorial Library as a child. Now, many years later, with another chance to participate in an Adult Summer Reading Club at Maplewood Memorial Library, this question/answer remains the same.

Gru, from “Despicable Me,” would be interesting to talk with, discuss science with him!

Atticus Finch. I’d most like to meet him so I could find out how he could be so steadfast in his beliefs, and so committed to justice in the face of societal pressure.

I would most like to meet the Little Prince, because he is the most reasonable fictional creature to me. I would love to talk to him about all his travels around the planets and all his adventures and feelings through his experiences.

Stephanie Plum, she seems fun, I would love to follow her for a day.

Pete the Cat. I would like to meet him because he has great songs, music and attitude.

Forrest Gump is who I would like to meet. In the book he sounds like a down to earth person. Lke me, he is a big guy who can run fast. Like him, I have done things in life. He went to space. I DJ a show at the Apollo Theater.

Jo March from “Little Women.” I loved the book and admired her character.

I would most like to meet the character Owen Meany because he had an incredible spirit.

Sherlock Holmes. I love mysteries

Sarah Grimke, she is a strong woman who accomplished a lot.

I would like to meet the Invisible Man from Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” He is emblematic of the man from humble beginnings that tried to do all of the right things, e.g. good college student with close association with the Dean and a seemingly bright future. After an unfortunate string of events, his life takes a 360 degree turn. Betrayed by those he thought had his best interest, he was forced to set out on his own to salvage a meager lifestyle. Varying experiences left him with more than a healthy level of skepticism towards the mainstream structures. Resigned to live as a man in the shadows, (an invisible man) for the rest of his days. Ironically, this isn’t much different from the “invisible man” that he had lived prior (struggling against socio-economic and personal identity issues beyond his control. Allowing other’s prejudices and ideologies to dictate. He never lived his authentic life, trusting and defining himself.

Waldo. He travels to places that I want to go.





Posted by Barbara | 8 Sep 2014 | Comments Off

Maplewood Librarian Visits a South African Public Library

Khayelitsha 3

By Ina Rimpau.

My partner, Hillary, our 12 year old daughter Esme and I were in Cape Town, South Africa in June. It is spectacularly beautiful but still carries remnants of South Africa’s 46 year history of apartheid, a system which, under the guise of fostering cultural separateness and ‘uniqueness,’ diverted the country’s resources to benefit the white, European –descended minority at the expense of the black African majority. One of the remnants is the existence of ‘townships,’ to which black and colored populations were displaced as large cities grew. People erected very basic houses and shacks without of benefit of zoning or amenities – such as sewage and electricity – provided by local governments.

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Most of the black South Africans serving tourists in Cape Town’s world-class restaurants and tourist sites return home to live in these townships. Several non-profits offer tours to townships so that tourists get a chance to see how the majority of Cape Town’s residents actually live. The tour companies in turn provide financial aid to the township.

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Khayelitsha, a ½ hour drive from the city center, is Cape Town’s largest township with a population of 2 million. Our guide, Jenny, a white woman, told us that township residents receive free health care. My first impression of Khayelitsha was of poverty but not squalor. The children looked properly nourished and played outdoors with their friends and cousins. There are public toilets and water faucets. There is electricity but a broken street light – actually a stadium-type big, tall light – has not been fixed in two years. There is garbage collection and we saw a few bags ready for pick up, but none strewn in the street. People are houseproud and keep their modest homes neat.

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Not everyone was happy to see us. Outside a store/bar, a slender, slightly inebriated young man challenged me: “Why are you here?” “I’m here with a friend” I answered, indicating our tour guide, Jenny, who stepped in and explained how educating people about conditions in Khayelitsha will ultimately help improve those conditions.

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I had asked Jenny to pay a visit to a public library, and she contacted Jane Langeni, the director of the Harare Library. I brought Jane 22 pounds worth of books from my daughter’s collection, mostly picture books featuring African American children. The library is a new, modern, light-filled building, housing collections in English and Xhosa. A bright Saturday afternoon found several school-aged children poring over books in the children’s section. There are several computers for public use, and a separate room for gaming. Bulletin boards were filled with community announcements, and a bowl of condoms in the teen section attested to the community’s fight against HIV/AIDS.

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It was heartening to see that Khayelitsha’s children have as welcoming a space as this for their enjoyment. Many thanks to Jane Langeni and to Jenny Housdon for an informative and inspiring tour.



Posted by Barbara | 4 Sep 2014 | Comments Off

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